An elderly couple headed to California was preparing to fly out of Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) when their small, black-wheeled suitcase disappeared after being X-rayed at their checkpoint.
“While going through security, my husband had one of his carry-on bags stolen off the belt after going through the scanner,” the wife said. “I immediately notified the TSA Officer at the desk at the end of the belts, and they took action immediately.”
JAX Supervisory TSA Manager Timothy Brookshire was at the supervisor podium when the upset woman approached him and explained that someone picked up the wrong bag. She also said her husband had dementia due to Alzheimer’s and all his medication was in the carry-on bag. She said he would not do well on the trip if he didn’t have his medication.
Brookshire asked the passenger to provide their names, telephone numbers and contact information. Then, he gathered what information he could find for the incorrect bag they had in their possession and started the discovery process. Brookshire wanted to make sure the distraught couple didn’t miss their Southwest Airlines flight to Long Beach Airport as he went through the mental exercise of prioritizing his next steps.
“I asked them what time they had come through the checkpoint so I might review the sequence of events via CCTV,” said Brookshire. The video revealed that another elderly passenger picked up the bag and headed to the American Airlines gate bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. “Both bags were identical,” Brookshire recalled.
“They started announcing overhead for travelers to check their black bags for my husband’s name,” the wife remembered. “They did this multiple times.”
Rushing to the Southwest gate, Brookshire and American Airlines Customer Service Supervisor Debra Casey-Harris explained the sequence of events to Southwest Airlines Station Manager John Ryckman and Customer Service Agent Crystal Perry. Casey-Harris, Ryckman and Perry wasted no time springing into action.
In short time, Ryckman, Perry and Casey-Harris were able to coordinate with both destinations to reunite the couple and their switched bag.
“Approximately 12 hours after we landed [in Long Beach], we were able to pick up the bag,” said the wife. “Your staff was professional and courteous every step along the way. We really appreciated all their hard work.”
“This situation would not have been resolved had it not been for the outstanding teamwork of American and Southwest Airlines,” said Brookshire. “This is a testament to how excellent partnerships can serve the needs of the customer at a level that is truly world-class.”